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Hone Harawira says he will target "the intelligent Maori vote" with the launch of his new political party.
Harawira launched the Mana party yesterday before a 300-strong crowd of supporters, including union heavyweights and Maori leaders Matt McCarten, Sue Bradford, John Minto, Nandor Tanczos, Annette Sykes, Margaret Mutu and Mereana Pitman.
This morning he told TVNZ's Q+A programme he was targeting Maori voters who wanted a "sense of independence".
"The Maori Party is an ally of National, and National is an ally of Don Brash ...Any Maori foolish enough to vote for that kind of coalition is welcome to do so.
"I'm after the intelligent Maori vote, I'm after the Maori vote that is keen to see a turn away from that style of politics."
He went on to say he had a "good working relationship" with the Green Party and was confident he could also work out a deal with Labour.
While Phil Goff has ruled out the possibility of working together, Harawira said other Labour politicians were open to the idea.
"Hands up anybody who thinks Phil Goff is going to be around after the election. I've already heard Labour MPs across the spectrum are more than happy to work with me," Harawira said.
Yesterday, Harawira's other announcement - that he would force a byelection in his Te Tai Tokerau electorate - immediately sparked accusations of hypocrisy for incurring a $500,000 bill for taxpayers.
A spokesman for the Prime Minister said the announcement of a byelection would not push the Government to an early election.
He said Harawira was four weeks away from the six-month cut-off period in which byelections could not be held. "It's a complete waste of taxpayer money," the spokesman said.
Labour's Kelvin Davis, who stood against Harawira in Te Tai Tokerau in the last election, said the byelection would be a huge cost that wouldn't benefit anybody in the region. The party would decide this week whether or not he would stand against Harawira.
But Harawira was defiant. "It's hardly an expense in terms of democracy," he told reporters yesterday.